The NRA is and always has been an educational institute. However, it seems that many people forget this is the case. Even the NRA's own website states "While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world."
In order to preserve Second Amendment values in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to them, the NRA needs to push the educational message. Eddie Eagle has educated over 29 million children with its "Stop, Don't Touch, Run Away and Tell a Grown-up" message. However, its impact is limited to those parents that choose to expose their children to it.
I would like to see the NRA pursue the reintroduction of firearms education in schools throughout America. I believe that if we can pursue implementing a Eddie Eagle-like program in schools for young children, we can not only educate an entire generation about firearms safety, but potentially have them become Second Amendment advocates in the future. However, that is only a small step. As the children get older, I would like to see safe firearms handling taught in the classroom with the ultimate culmination being the reintroduction of school sanctioned shooting sports.
We teach our children about sex, drugs and how to operate vehicles safely because we understand that they will likely encounter them, whether parents want them to or not. Why are firearms any different?
I firmly believe one of the best ways to change someone's opinion about firearms is to give them a positive experience with one. Many individuals who are "anti-gun" have never been exposed to a firearm. Instead, they rely on what they see in movies, television shows and what they are told by the news and politicians. While the NRA can spend endless amounts of money to target ads towards these people, nothing will be more effective than a member giving them basic firearms safety instruction and introducing them to shooting firearms in a safe manner.
I would like to see the NRA incentivize both NRA Affiliated Clubs and Members to conduct public outreach days, where non-members and individuals who have no experience with firearms are invited to clubs to learn basic firearms safety, handling, and are given an opportunity to shoot. It is my belief that this will change the perception of individuals who are "on the fence" or are "anti-gun" but have an open mind to either become firearms enthusiasts or at the very least neutral on the issue.
By having public outreach events, it humanizes the message the NRA tries to promote. And that humanization is worth more than any amount of advertising could bring to the table.
One area that the NRA needs to address is the public perception of the organization. Unfortunately, the mainstream media and politicians have painted the NRA as the "evil gun lobby" rather than an educational organization dedicated to teaching safe and proper firearms handling skills. I'm not suggesting that the NRA stop its political lobbying efforts or cease donating to candidates who support Second Amendment values. I am suggesting that the NRA needs to diligently work to change the public's perception as to what the organization is.
I believe the public outreach programs I outlined above are part of the key to success. While an ad campaign may be effective to targeted audiences, I don't believe simply running advertisements will effectively reshape the public's opinion of the organization. It will require the organization to help guide its members in effectuating that opinion shift. More importantly, the NRA needs to shape the messaging of what the organization is, rather than allowing outside entities to do it for them.
Accessibility to Members
One of the traits that I believe makes a good leader is listening to those around you. If I am elected, I pledge that I will always maintain an open line of communication with the members. As many discovered during the last election cycle, I do respond to inquiries and usually in a prompt manner. Apparently, this is is a rare occurrence given the number of surprised response I got from my initial reply.
The job of the Board of Directors is to serve the members. In order to do that effectively, I need to be able to hear directly from the members as to issues they see or suggestions they may have. I don't claim to have all of the answers but I know that listening to others helps in finding them.
I firmly believe that National Reciprocity should be a top legislative priority of gun rights groups. Too many times individuals who are licensed to carry a firearm in their home state end up crossing an invisible line and finding themselves in a legal nightmare. One which often results in their prosecution and likely ends with them no longer being able to legally own or possess firearms or ammunition for the remainder of their lives absent a pardon from the Governor.
While anti-gun groups and politicians cry wolf, claiming that blood will run in the streets, the reality is that if a citizen is able to legally carry a firearm in their home state, they should be able to legally carry a firearm in any state they visit. The passing on National Reciprocity would ensure that law abiding citizens no longer find themselves in a potential legal nightmare.
Other Legislative priorities
There are a variety of issues that gun owners face at the federal level. There are several issues that I believe the NRA needs to support and act quickly on in order to take advantage of the political climate.
hearing protection act
The Hearing Protection Act's goal of eliminating silencers from the National Firearms Act is one that gun owners and the NRA should stand behind. Silencers are proven tools to effectively protect not only the hearing of those who enjoy shooting firearms, but those around them. There is no reason that a device which protects an individual's hearing and reduces the noise pollution from firearms should be subjected to additional taxes and the burdensome National Firearms Act process.
federal firearms relief determinations
Federal Firearms Relief Determinations are a lesser known issue to the majority of gun owners. Prior to 1992, Congress appropriated money to ATF to conduct hearings which would potentially grant relief to individuals who were federally prohibited from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition. Since 1992, Congress has stripped ATF of its ability to conduct these hearings, leaving thousands of individuals who have been convicted of non-violent crimes unable to own or possess firearms and ammunition. The NRA should make funding these determination hearings a legislative priority in order for thousands of your fellow citizens to regain their Second Amendment right.
Sporting Purposes Exemption
Since 1968 the firearms community has been burdened with the Sporting Purposes Exemption. Firearms, generally, cannot be imported into the United States unless the firearm is "generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes." The problem with the Sporting Purposes Exemption is that the discretion lays solely in the Attorney General as to the suitability of the firearm and the criteria is rather nebulous. With modern day sporting events such as USPSA, 3 Gun, etc., the number of firearms suitable for "sporting purposes" should be astronomical, yet, the importation of many firearms is still barred. In fact, in the last study that ATF conducted, ATF found that "[w]hile some may consider practical shooting a sport, by its very nature it is closer to police/combat-style competition and is not comparable to the more traditional types of sports, such as hunting and organized competitive target shooting," exhibiting the problem with such an exemption. The NRA should push lawmakers to introduce legislation to eliminate such a nebulous clause.
ITAR is a burdensome regulatory scheme which places a hefty registration fee on licensees. Within the past year, DDTC released guidance as to some activities which would be regulated under ITAR. Some of these activities include those that many gunsmiths perform. While ITAR, in this context, is certainly more of an industry issue, it does harm consumers as gunsmiths and others will be forced to raise prices in order to afford to register under ITAR. NRA should work alongside NSSF to remove a variety of activities and firearms from the United States Munitions List (USML) under ITAR and have them placed under the Commerce Control List of the Department of Commerce.
National Firearms Act
I believe that all firearms are protected by the Second Amendment, including machine guns. Having a collection that spans handguns to silencers, you can rest assured I am a candidate that supports the ability of people to own NFA firearms.
Additionally, as I am asked frequently, I am for the repeal of the National Firearms Act. I don't believe that NFA firearms should be restricted any more heavily than any other firearm. That would also include the repeal of the Hughes Amendment.
Attendance at board meetings
While this point should not need to be discussed, unfortunately, too many current board members fail to attend meetings on a regular basis or even at all. If I am elected, I pledge to attend the Board Meetings absent an extenuating circumstance (death in the family, medical emergency, etc.) After all, that is why you vote for individuals to sit on the board, is it not?
Issues you would like to discuss
If there is an issue that you would like to know my position on that is not listed, feel free to drop me an email using the "Contact" page.